Let's Make Robots!

Search and Rescue

This challenge is inspired by a local event, where kids are remote controlling robots through a maze like course to find a small Teddy bear, grab it (with velcro) and drag it to the start point. But is this possible to do autonomously? I'm sure it is! 

So here is the challenge: build an autonomous robot that is capable to drive through a maze like environment, find a small Teddy bear, grab it by what ever means and bring it to the starting point. The maze can be made out of card boxes, books, whatever you have handy and it should have at least 4 turns before the position of the bear and the hallways width should be at least 12". The robot shloud be smaller than 12" and can't look over the walls. You can build a 2 wheels, 4 wheels rover, biped, quad, hexapod... anything you like. No remote processing is allowed, that means no link to an external computer is allowed. You can't moddify or add anything to the Teddy bear to make it easier detectable, but you can wrap around it a velcro collar so the robot may grab it easier. Make a video of your robot rescueing the Teddy bear and post a link to it here.

The winner will be decided by a community vote, still need to figure that out how's going to happen, a poll might work, but I don't see a way to add it to the challenge.

There will be prizes available:

- a µBotino V3 kit and a USB-serial cable

- a Robot Builder's Arduino kit and a USB-serial cable

- a Robot Builder's Shield V3 kit and a mini Breadboard


Update, Sept. 26th, 2011:

Since no robot was entered by September 22nd, I have granted an extension of the end date to September 25th. Only one robot was completed by this time, by Sebathorus, so I declare it winner of the First Place. But, since there were others who expressed interest in participating, I am going to make a second extension, until the end of the month. I hope at least 2 more robots to be entered. Come on people! I've got some kits to give!


Update, Oct. 1st, 2011:

The main reason behind this challenge was the old robot builder's dream: robot, fetch me a beer. I thought to bring it to you guys step by step. First, build a robot that is able to find an object and retrieve it. Best built is with a gripper and sensors that scan left-right and look for the object. After you did wall following, try to add encoders and remember your path and after you got the object, get back on the shortest path (maze solving). Build the gripper strong enough so it can pick up a beer can as the retrieved object. Add a voice recognition module and say the magic words: Robot, fetch, a beer! My MiniEric robot can almost do that (can lift only an empty can, not a full one). Can yours?

I removed the end date for this challenge, it will be still ON until the first robot that is able to fetch a (full) beer can left on the floor is demonstrated. No maze required, just house navigating, have the beer on the floor in front of the refrigerator in the kitchen and start the robot in front of the living room couch. The robot must find it's way through house clutter. Post the video and code for the robot in your robot page here on LMR. Prize? I don't know yet, but it's going to be something in the $100 range. Perhaps something you need to have for your robots... Oh, voice recognition module is not actually required, you can just press a button on the robot. In this case, you can win a voice command module (I have 2 of them).

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Is line following allowed? My robot plans are almost done... next i'll have to make a more better grabbing system, start buying parts from Ebay (SA's will be approaching again), and start cutting out the chassis from a hard plastic sheet. Is the robot allowed to drag the can across the floor? Hope to get the answers soon!


Patrick already asked about line following. As the competition was described initially, you should use wall hugging not line following. It's even simpler and you already have the Sharp sensor required for that. No need to buy more parts unless you want to do extra stuff not related to this challenge. Do a Googe search for wall following tutorial and you should be fine. The robot can drag the Teddy bear to the exit, but it has to lift up the drink, as this is a more sophisticated challenge. I suggest you do the first challenge and only after a successful run you start to think about improvements and go further. And get the Arduino Robotics book, you need it (I'm not afiliated with them, I just consider it to be a verry good introductory book in robotics). 

You say above that the beer challenge has no deadline but is it really open? And can we use magnets to lift the beer can? Also, is there going to be any awards? Please clarify.

Yes, it is still open. You can use what ever you like to lift the beer can. You can use even a vacuum tube. All it matters is the robot to bring you the beer autonomously, like you would send one of your kids to fetch it for you from the fridge. If you don't drink beer, you can choose your favourite drink, or a bottle of water. But fetching the beer is the dream of any serious roboticist. And the reward will reflect the level of thought and work you put on solving this challenge. Oh, and you must make a robot page on LMR explaining how you built the robot (I thought it was implied, but just to make sure...). 

Ohk, Ro-bot-x, thanks. It's logical to post your robot on lmr and I would have done so even if I wouldn't have been competing. Also, since I'm 18 and have no kids to fetch me a can of beer, I'm going to use a can of Coke instead and I see that you have no problem with it. Also there was a reason why I talked about the magnets but as I see that we are still competing, I better not mention it. As both me and my friend are going through a series of tests for selection in engineering universities, I will not be able to give this project any attention before mid of May and hopefully, if everything goes right, we'll complete this by end of May. Thanks once again

Drink cans are made of aluminium. or at least they are where I live,

And magnets dont stick to aluminium! 

i am using an ir tx-rx pair for wall detection.so my question is would it be a problem if  i use the walls of a specific color like black or white?

No problem at all. Use what ever you need. But keep in mind that at the end of the day, our goal is to have a robot do that in a regular home.